Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Beijing putting pressure on family to bury Zhao soon

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China has tightened security at the home of purged Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang (胡耀邦) in an apparent move to curb visitors and force his family to agree to terms for a funeral, sources close to the family said yesterday.

No funeral date has been set because negotiations between the family and the General Office of the party's elite Central Committee have been deadlocked over what funeral honors would be appropriate for the one-time premier who died on Jan. 17 aged 85.

Zhao was sacked and lived under house arrest for almost 16 years after opposing a decision to send in the army to crush the student-led Tiananmen Square demonstrations on June 4, 1989.

"The authorities want Zhao buried as soon as possible," a family friend who spoke on condition of anonymity said. "They have tightened security in the hope that if there are no more visitors, the family will give in and agree to a funeral date."

Police officers outside Zhao's home have begun to demand visitors register their identity cards and to limit numbers.

The authorities are eager to bury Zhao, nervous that mourning could turn into protests, especially when the weather warms. His family has sought consultations to ensure due respect for the deposed party chief and premier.

Zhao was accused of committing "grave mistakes" by splitting the party, but staunchly refused to admit fault. The party has proposed a scaled-down funeral -- a simplified ceremony to bid farewell to his remains instead of an elaborate memorial service more in keeping with the stature of a man who once led the party and the government, sources have said.

No official eulogy will be read at the ceremony and an obituary may not be published in newspapers because the family refused to agree to include wording referring to Zhao's "grave mistakes," a second source said.

The family wants the fact that he spent 15 years under house arrest included in the obituary if it is to say he committed grave mistakes.

Calligraphy on a white mourning banner from Zhao's children hanging on a wall in his study read: "It's our honor to be your sons and daughter. Supporting your decision is our unchanged choice."

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